All posts tagged Business as Agent of World Benefit

The best tech keynote I’ve ever seen: Elon Musk’s Appreciative Intelligence

I’ve watched a lot of handsomely paid CEOs get on stages for keynote presentations over the past decade, and none were as good as the one I saw Elon Musk give Thursday night in California as he…


How do you cultivate appreciative intelligence? You learn from people who see the future in the tiniest successes, progress moments, and strengths of today. For example Xerox could have been Apple. However it could not see what was precious right in front of them. Remember what Steve Jobs said in 1978 when he visited the Xerox research labs to look at what everyone else called a very flawed new computer interface. He looked at it, this ugly and very flawed display, and said something like, ““I thought it was the best thing I’d ever seen in my life…it was very flawed…still, the germ of the idea was there and within, you know ten minutes, it was obvious to me that all computers would work like this some day.”

The other night, in Hawthorne, California, Elon Musk unveiled “the missing piece” in the transition over to clean energy. The Tesla Powerwall, a large household battery (with industrial applications as well), was that piece. Read more

‘Flourish and Prosper’ Takes Sustainability to the Next Level

This week I had the chance to attend the Third Global Forum for Businesses as an Agent of World Benefit at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.


This article by the Triple Pundit helps us see the next stage in sustainable value creation. Based on the new book by Chris Laszlo and the Fowler Center Distinguished Fellows, the conference set a new north star for the field. Here is what Siegal, the author, had to say about his experience:

“This week I had the opportunity to attend the Third Global Forum for Businesses as an Agent of World Benefit at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. The theme for this year’s forum is ‘Flourish and Prosper.’ The event, which was pioneered eight years ago by David Cooperrider — best known for his work on appreciative inquiry.

As Barbara Snyder, Case Western president said, “We’ve come a long way from talking about sustainability to talking about flourishing.” That sentiment was repeated several times on this first day — that it is time to reach beyond merely sustaining, and time to stop thinking in terms of trade-offs. We need to be smart enough to include the considerations of people, profit and planet in everything we do, to synthesize these requirements into smart solutions.

There is another dimension to this, as well. The idea of flourishing, says Cooperrider, means that the energy for innovation must come from an intrinsic caring. It must acknowledge the interconnectedness of all things. Citing the Dalai Lama, when asked about corporate social responsibility (CSR), he said that ‘responsibility’ is not the right word. It’s intimacy. It’s time for a transformation that means moving away from a preoccupation with the self and focusing on the interconnectedness.”

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Combining Purpose With Profits: Companies Still Need More Than Good Intentions to Do Good

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Several organizing principles can help companies sustain both profitability and a sense of purpose.

David Cooperrider‘s insight:

Good intention to do good is one thing. But perhaps the most the essential thing “business as an agent of world benefit” does is to combine good intention with brilliant management.  MIT’s research looks at several organizing principles, and why good management cannot be compromised by simply having good intentions. But there is another real lesson here: having a purpose beyond profits is the best way to realize the highest levels in human motivation.  People give their lives to real causes–and our world has plenty of them just waiting for leaders to turn our world’s great challenges into bona fide business opportunities.  Purpose, according to Ratan Tata, the recently retired CEO of the Tata Group, is “a spiritual and moral call to action; it is what a person or company stands for.”

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Good Design Is Good For Business: Hard Data

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A new analysis by the Design Management Institute concludes that design-driven businesses have outperformed the SampP by a whopping 228 over the past…

David Cooperrider‘s insight:

In this study, design-inspired companies had these characteristics: design had to be embedded within the company’s organizational structure; design leadership had to be present at senior and divisional levels; and there had to be a senior-level commitment to design’s use as an innovation resource and a force for positive change.

The new analysis puts real numbers to what design junkies suspected all along: in the past 10 years, design-driven companies outperformed the Standard & Poor’s 500–a stock market index of 500 large publicly traded companies–by 228%.

Likewise, our strengths-based applied practice, with the next generation Appreciative Inquiry Summit called “the sustainable design factory”–has taught us that design-inspired x sustainable value x whole system collaboration= the fastest way to bring out the best in people, stakeholder relationships, and passion for higher performance. Read on:

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Encyclopedia of Positive Questions, 2nd Ed: Diana Whitney, Amanda Trosten-Bloom, David Cooperrider, Brian S. Kaplin

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Encyclopedia of Positive Questions, 2nd Ed. by Diana Whitney, Amanda Trosten-Bloom, David Cooperrider, Brian S. Kaplin

David Cooperrider‘s insight:

As I have written elsewhere:

Inquiry is… the Experience of Mystery
Which Changes
Our Lives

We live in world’s our questions create. One of the things almost all sustainability designers, entrepreneurs, do is ask inspired questions. And it can be learned. In many ways, the art of leadership is the art of the question. But not just any kind of question. Its about questions that help us see possibility and opportunity–what’s best and what works, and what’s next and what’s possible.  These are not problematizing questions (what’s wrong) but are based on appreciative inquiry into the true, the good, the better and the possible. Its about possibility science where an “N” of one shows that its possible.  As Professor Langer at Harvard once said: “if you can teach one dog to yodel, then you know dogs can yodel.”

Here is the second edition of a book Read more

Dean Rob Widing: Business as an Agent of World Benefit is an Idea Whose Time Has Come

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Thomas Edison was known to remark…

David Cooperrider‘s insight:

We are on the eve of management’s finest hour. Exponential innovation is transforming everything from energy to education, and as it does, a different perspective of the future of management emerges. Everyone is beginning to imagine once-in-a-civilization-opportunities. It is no longer utopian to speak of our witnessing the end of extreme poverty through profitability, the emergence a world of abundant, clean renewable energy, the spread of education to 100 percent of the earth’s children, of business as a pragmatic force for peace, of cradle-to-cradle factories and supply chains that turn so-called ‘waste’ to wealth, or of the birth of full spectrum flourishing where businesses can excel, people can thrive, and nature can flourish. Read more

The Positive Psychology of Sustainable Enterprise: A Special Issue

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This week sees the release of a special issue of the Journal of Corporate Citizenship (JCC). This issue, on the Positive Psychology of Sustainable Enterprise, looks at how a positive approach to co…

David Cooperrider’s insight:

Introduction to the Special Issue:

Mirror Flourishing and The Positive Psychology of Sustainability+
by David Cooperrider and Ronald Fry

We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. –Aristotle

In a world where just about every corporation is going greener and more socially responsible, and where many have found that building a better world and building a stronger business indeed go hand in hand, it is time for scholars and managers alike to explore the impact of sustainability action on the workforce and people, that is, to study exactly how the quest for sustainable value affects the human side of enterprise. If as Aristotle observed, we are what we repeatedly do—and if much if not most of our waking lives is spent in the context of organizations—then what happens to us when we are engaged in organizations that are leading and breaking the sustainability barrier?

Company “A” is seen as an industry laggard, that is, a sincere commitment to sustainability is nowhere to be found in the organization’s strategies, priorities, supply chain commitments, culture, or operational realities—and the world knows it. Company “B” on the other hand is increasingly recognized as an industry-wide model, where the sustainable value lens is not a “bolt on” but is deeply embedded and has propelled new sources of innovation and entrepreneurship.  Now ask yourself: will there be a difference in these two organizations, on the inside of the enterprise, in terms of the human dimension? Read more

3rd Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit at Weatherhead School of Management to Focus on “The Flourishing Enterprise”

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David Cooperrider‘s insight:

Optimistic. Bold. Transformational. These are the words people have used to describe the Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit. Patrick Cesceau the former CEO of Unilever and Honorary Chair of the first Global Forum along with C.K Prahalad described it as “an epicenter for sustainable innovation.”

The Global Forum is an “Unconference” because it is more like a massive design studio—engaging, creative and action–oriented–than a typical convention. The Forum taps into the “whole system of strengths” and uses design tools from the world–renowned Appreciative Inquiry Summit method to enable and inspire individual, team and collective action. To be sure, the Forum offers groundbreaking workshops and amazing speakers, but what makes the Global Forum such a landmark event for many people is its mantra: “up with design.”

Upcoming 2014 Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit Read more